Portsmouth vs Hull Preview
Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence return to the side after suspension and signing permanently respectively but Greg Halford begins his three match ban after his moment of stupidity at Vicarage Road.
Nigel Pearson is set to hand a Hull City debut to Matt Fryatt following his signing from Leicester and could play alongside fellow new signing Aaron McLean. Liam Rosenior is banned after his sending off against Leicester on New Year's Day.
Pompey and Hull are on the same amount of points heading into this game, with the Tigers one place below Pompey due to an inferior goal difference so this is something of a mid-table six-pointer.
Pompey looked tired at Watford yesterday and could be lethargic again as Steve Cotterill isn't able to freshen the team up with squad rotation. However, the introduction of Kitson and Lawrence in particular should give Pompey some extra quality and vitality.
This game will be a difficult one as Hull were quietly climbing up the league following a rotten start to their campaign. They were eight games unbeaten before their home defeat to Leicester yesterday and are unbeaten in their last seven away matches.
That good form is mainly due to a strong defence that don't give too many cheap goals away, much unlike our own backline. However, Hull have the joint-worst scoring record in the Championship along with Sheffield United, having only scored in 23 goals in 24 games.
I think the key to winning this game will be how well the central midfield performs. We're going to miss Brown's tenacity and Mullins has barely missed a game all season and may begin to feel fatigued, having not had a break.
I expect Cotterill to push Mokoena forward into midfield and bring Rocha back into the side alongside Sonko even if there are concerns over the Portuguese centre back's hamstrings.
I hope Balram Chainrai will be watching this game so he can see for himself just how Pompey are struggling for numbers. It's because of our lack of numbers, therefore lack of fitness over 90 minutes that I don't believe we'll win this game.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Jamie ASHDOWN
RB: Joel WARD
CB: Ibrahima SONKO
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Carl DICKINSON
RM: Liam LAWRENCE
CM: Hayden MULLINS
CM: Aaron MOKOENA
LM: John UTAKA
CF: David NUGENT
CF: Dave KITSON
GK: Brad GUZAN
RB: Andy DAWSON
CB: Kamil ZAYATTE
CB: Anthony GERRARD
LB: Paul McSHANE
RM: Jamie DEVITT
CM: James HARPER
CM: Robert KOREN
LM: Nolberto SOLANO
CF: Aaron McLEAN
CF: Matt FRYATT
Last Time: Portsmouth 3 Hull City 2 (Premier League - 20/03/2010)
Caleb Folan gave the Tigers the lead after he deflected Craig Fagan's shot past David James but Tommy Smith scored his only goal for Pompey from close range to equalise.
Folan scored again on the counter-attack deep into the second half but just as it looked like Pompey would lose, Jamie O'Hara curled in an 88th minute free kick and Kanu scored just a minute later to ensure Iain Dowie lost his first match as Hull manager.
I expect Pompey to carry far more threat up front in this game than they did yesterday, but with a tiring midfield and a leaky defence I simply cannot see Pompey winning this one.
Portsmouth 1 Hull City 1